Local biology professor talks about recent bird epidemic

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GHENT, WV (WVNS)– It’s now a common scene here in America, especially Appalachia: Birds getting sick and some even dying from an unidentified virus.

Dr. Tom Ford, biology professor at Concord University, said scientists received reports about this situation as early as April.

“Several species that seem to be most likely to have this condition are things like blue jays and grackles,” Dr. Ford said. “I’ve seen some pictures of robins, cardinals.”

A lot of the species mentioned are found in southern West Virginia. Scientists are currently researching to see what is causing these birds to get sick. However Dr. Ford said he has a hypothesis.

“If you look at the map where these birds are being affected, it corresponds to where the cicadas brood x,” Dr. Ford explained. “One of the things that is happening with the cicadas brood x is some of them are emerging with this fungus parasite that causes body root. So some are suggesting this might be causing it.”

Most of these cases in West Virginia are reported in the Eastern Panhandle. Because of the spike in recent deaths, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is encouraging people to stop feeding birds until further notice. But if they need to, officers recommended wearing gloves while handling. They also ask that people start cleaning their bird feeders with soapy water and disinfect with 10-percent of bleach.

Dr. Ford also recommends pet owners to keep a close eye on their furry friends.

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